Magnificent French 19th Century Oil on Canvas Painting:

The Revolt at Pavia (Italy 1796)
by Paul-Émile Boutigny (1853-1929)

Detail of Napoleon from 'Napoleon: Revolt at Pavia'
Detail of Napoleon from
‘Napoleon: Revolt at Pavia’

Antiquarian Traders is proud to offer this fabulous painting, by the listed French artist Paul-Émile Boutigny. This artwork, depicting Napoleon at a key point in history, is a truly a rare find. The painting is of great historical significance, high artistic quality, and rich in the symbolism that made Napoleon a great hero and icon worldwide. It makes a grand statement, measuring an impressive 10 feet high by 13 feet wide. Painted in oil on canvas, the artist’s talent and skill is clearly of high museum quality. The painting provides the rich ambiance of the finest of royal settings. It reminds the viewer of the great museums of Europe or a fabulous Royal Palace. In fact this painting could have graced the walls of the famous Palace of Versailles where the Kings of France, including Napoleon, resided in splendor.The artist, Paul-Émile Boutigny was born in Paris on March 11, 1854. He studied under Cabanel at the important Académie des Beaux Arts  (School of Beautiful Arts). The academy is well known as a center for the finest artists of the era, and attendance there was of high significance. The school began as the 17th-century Royal Academies of Painting and Sculpture, receiving its official title, Académie des Beaux Arts in 1803. Paul-Émile Boutigny’s paintings were presented in many of the Great Exhibitions of the late 19th century and the early 20th century, winning numerous awards and metals. His artwork was displayed in the Halls of Paris until the year of his death in 1929. Boutigny is a known listed artist with his name found in the important records and listings of artists of collectable significance. His artworks are primarily historical French military subject matter, with an emphasis on the period of Napoleon. His paintings have brought numerous high sales figures in both Europe and the United States. Major auction houses have been contacted and this painting was given estimates that coincide with our offering.

Antique Engraving of Pavia, Italy
Antique Engraving of Pavia, Italy

The painting ‘Napoleon: Revolt at Pavia’ depicts an actual historical event in Pavia’s history and the career of the great Napoleon, who is known as the greatest military genius of his time and perhaps the greatest general in history. Napoleon was a young man of just 27, when only six months earlier on October 26, 1795, was appointed the Commander In Chief of the French Military. Pavia, Italy had been an important historical city for centuries, fought over and changing rule numerous times. During the Roman Empire it was a municipality and an important Roman military site. It became a fortified citadel of the Goths and the Byzantines. Pavia then became the capital of the Longobard Kingdom and later of the Regnum Italicum until the 12th century. Conquered by the Visconti family which ruled over Milan, it became an intellectual and artistic center and the seat of the University, which attracted students from many countries. After the Franco-Spanish war and the battle of Pavia in 1525, the town fell under Spanish occupation until 1713. It was taken over by the Austrians until 1796. At this time the French Army under Napoleon arrived at Pavia. The painting depicts the precise event in which Napoleon is about to seize the city of Pavia.

Detail of Pope Pius VI pleading with Napoleon to spare his city

Detail of Pope Pius VI pleading with Napoleon to spare his
city from the Painting 'Napoleon: Revolt at Pavia'

The Catholic Church headed by Pope Pius VI was fearful that Napoleon’s new rule would overthrow the Papacy if they overtook Pavia, so the eighty year old Pope Pius VI made a desperate gamble and ordered the priests of the area to rouse the peasants and stand up against the French Army and Napoleon. The church bells were rung in all the surrounding areas and on May 23 and 24 in 1796, 10,000 peasants led by their priests surrounded Pavia, capturing the small French garrison located there.Pope Pius VI and his followers pleaded with Napoleon not to overthrow their city. This scene with the Pope can be seen in the center of the painting. What the Pope did not know was that Napoleon fully intended to firmly respect the Papacy and that additionally, Napoleon had the power to overthrow the oppressive Austrian Directorate.Napoleon instantly understood the gravity of the situation and descended on Pavia the second day, May 24, 1796 with the brigade of Colonel Lannes. Napoleon took the city by storm, reestablished order, and reiterated his desire to respect and defend the Catholic religion.

Napoleon went on to become the great Emperor of France, ruling over Pavia and his Empire until 1815.Considered one of the most brilliant individuals in history, Napoleon was a masterful soldier, grand tactician, sublime statesman and exceedingly capable administrator. He is also known for his passionate romance with Josephine, known as the Queen of Hearts. Napoleon and Josephine were newly wed only months at the time depicted in the painting ‘Napoleon at the Revolt at Pavia’.

Portrait of Empress Joséphine of France by François Gerard

Portrait of Empress Joséphine of France,
painted by François Gerard

The love letters Napoleon and Josephine both wrote while Napoleon was away at battle are legendary, and their relationship is known as one of the great love stories of history. Josephine was a socialite without equal and mistress to several leading political figures. She left a young Napoleon completely smitten on their first meeting. They married on March 9, 1796. Josephine had regular dalliances with other men and her affairs almost led to a divorce in 1799. However, despite Napoleon’s love for her, the Emperor needed children of his own to secure succession to the crown and when she was unable to give him any he finally divorced her in 1809. Painful though it was, divorce allowed Josephine to devote time to gardens and her love of botany and her last years were productive. She died in 1814, a woman much loved by the people. Napoleon never got over having to divorce her and his last words were, "France, the army, Josephine."

Photo of Paul-Émile Boutigny

Paul-Émile Boutigny

The painting is dated 1895 and signed P.E. Boutigny. The provenance is exceptional. It was originally commissioned to hang in the city hall in Pavia by a wealthy patron who died before the painting was completed. The artist had not been paid for his work and subsequently "The Revolt at Pavia" was sold to the Liverpool and London and Globe insurance Company with the proviso that it be displayed and shared with the public. In 1901, the Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Company gifted this magnificent piece to the N.Y. Metropolitan Museum of Art where it was exhibited from 1901-1927 (see image 9 above). In his will, Boutigny asked that the painting be displayed in a French museum after his death.

It was purchased by Mr. J.G. Pepper in 1927 and given to the Isaac Delgado Museum in New Orleans, a city that has always kept its French heritage. The Delgado, now known as the New Orleans Museum of Art, displayed Revolt from 1928-1981. It was then purchased by Dr. Howard Knohl of Los Angeles, California and subsequently sold to Antiquarian Traders, Beverly Hills, California in 2000. The painting is in remarkable condition. Complete restoration was a two year project, recently completed to perfection by a top quality restorer with credentials from both The Getty Museum and The Los Angeles County Art Museum. This painting is a truly rare offering, as important artworks depicting Napoleon are recently more scarce. Perhaps, it is the first "find" of the 21st Century. Antiquarian Traders is including a fabulous frame, the necessary rolling crate, and assistance to protect the painting during shipping.

The Revolt at Pavia’